Sunday, March 26, 2017

Coral, climate change, storm surges and #CycloneDebbie



Tropical Cyclone Debbie has just formed over unusually warm waters in the Coral sea and is forecast to hit the Queensland coast on Monday or Tuesday. Destructive winds and storm surges forecast, but also cooling sea surface temperatures to assist Great Barrier Reef corals suffering coral bleaching.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie draws heat from the unusually warm waters of the Coral Sea. This will help it increase in intensity to achieve possibly Category 4, and an outside chance as a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone before it strikes land.

It is the first tropical cyclone to strike the north Queensland coast since Cyclone Nathan in March 2015. Although it may not be as strong, it is being compared in size and extent to the Category 5 cyclone Yasi from 2011.

The destructive winds and storm surge may wreck havoc on low lying coastal areas when the cyclone comes ashore.

The cyclone brings substantial cloud cover to the region and helps to cool the general water temperature. It may thus help limit coral bleaching, which involves the expulsion of Zooxanthellae by the coral polyps when the waters get too warm. For those coral reefs in the southern reef system already suffering mild coral bleaching, it can help them recover more quickly. But for many corals the cyclone cooling the waters may already be too little, too late.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Keppel Prince expands wind tower production with 50 new jobs at Portland



The focus on boosting renewables in Victoria through the VRET by the Andrews Labor Government is already boosting regional jobs in Portland at the Keppel Prince Engineering wind tower fabrication plant.

The Andrews Labor Government is assisting Portland engineering and manufacturing firm Keppel Prince Engineering with a $1.97 million expansion of the company's wind tower fabrication facility. This will create 50 new jobs to add to the 80 local wind tower manufacturing jobs.

Keppel Prince is Australia’s largest, and Victoria’s only, wind tower manufacturer. The wind tower division currently manufactures 110 wind towers per year, supplying them for wind farm projects across the country.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Victoria pioneering climate just transition package for Hazelwood coal workers



A special $20 million worker transfer package was announced today for workers affected by the closure of Engie's Hazelwood Power Station. This will allow early retirement for workers at other LaTrobe Power stations creating places for Hazelwood workers that want to continue their careers in power generation.

This transfer package is an important component of a suite of support mechanisms being put into place for the community, a part of a just transition being pioneered by the Victorian government driven by the necessity to move to zero carbon emissions by climate change.

“We will always stand up for the Latrobe Valley and with the worker transfer scheme for Hazelwood workers, we are doing just that. This is great news for jobs and for Hazelwood workers and their families.” said the Premier Daniel Andrews.

This particular scheme will cost $20 million to assist around 150 retrenched Hazelwood workers to remain in the power industry. In the first instance, employment transfer to AGL Energy’s Loy Yang A will be facilitated, but later transfers to Engie's Loy Yang B may be available.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Community campaign wins permanent #fracking ban in Victoria


Article first published at nofibs.com.au

To ensure it's clean green reputation of it's agricultural sector, and to guarantee the health of rural farming communities Victoria became the first Australian state officially banning fracking. It was motivated by a strong community lead campaign for a ban on gas exploration from 2011.

Legislation was passed in the Victorian Legislative Council, the upper house of the Victorian parliament, for a permanent legislative ban on fracking. Victoria’s agriculture sector employs more than 190,000 people and relies on it's clean and green reputation.

The legislation was passed without amendment. The Coalition parties and Shooters and Farmers Party sought to amend the legislation regarding the onshore conventional gas exploration moratorium, but were defeated 20 votes to 18. Sex Party MLC Fiona Pattern and Western Region independent MLC James Purcell gave crucial support, along with the Greens, for passage of the bill.